Often, poop is green simply because you ate a green food like kale or spinach, or something containing food dyes. Some medicines and supplements can also change the color of your poop. There are other possible causes, however, like infections or underlying issues such as Crohn's disease.
What is green poop?
Green poop is not unusual. In addition to eating green foods, you can get green poop as a result of diarrhea. In that case, the green color is from a buildup of bile when food doesn't have enough time to break down in your digestive tract.
If you're concerned that your green poop is not normal, some signs to watch out for are green poop that smells worse than usual, lasts for several days, or doesn't improve after more than 48 hours when you've taken problem foods out of your diet.
Causes of green poop include:
- Eating leafy greens like kale or spinach
- Eating foods with dyes
- Taking supplements like iron
- Taking medicines like antibiotics
- Food sensitivities
- Infections from parasites, viruses, or bacteria
- Underlying digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis
Diagnosis for green poop
Diagnosing green poop can involve:
- Your doctor reviewing your medical history
- A physical exam
- Imaging procedures like a CT scan or colonoscopy
- Checking stool samples for irregularities
- Blood testing for allergies or other issues like celiac disease
Your doctor may need to determine whether your green poop is a sign of a digestive disorder. Tests for digestive disorders include:
Treatments for green poop
If your green poop is accompanied by other symptoms, you'll want to reach out to your doctor. See your doctor if:
- You have a change in poop color that isn't associated with a change in diet.
- Your diarrhea lasts for a long time.
- Your green poop is chronic (happens for a long period of time — for several weeks).
- You have accompanying symptoms like severe stomach cramping.
Treatments for disorders related to green poop include:
- For bacterial infections, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
- Treating IBS occasionally involves medication. For IBS marked by diarrhea, your doctor may prescribe diarrhea-decreasing medications like loperamide (Imodium). For both constipation-dominant and diarrhea-dominant IBS, antidepressants or antispasmodics — medications to reduce spasms that can cause cramps — might help.
- Crohn's disease may also be treated by a variety of medications.
- For celiac disease, you'll need to follow a gluten-free diet. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian.
- Similarly, IBS treatments include diet changes and stress-relief methods.
- Like other digestive disorders, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis usually require changes to your diet.
In some circumstances, digestive diseases like Crohn's disease will require surgery. Up to 75% of people diagnosed with Crohn's disease need surgery to resolve their symptoms.
Possible complications from treatments
As with every treatment program, there are potential side effects. You'll want to weigh the risks and benefits with your doctor. Some medications include fillers that contain gluten, so they would be a problem for people with celiac disease. Also, if you take multiple medications, they could interact with each other in an unhealthy way.
Surgery can also have complications. People with Crohn's disease often have symptoms reappear after only a few years. Up to 85% of Crohn's patients experience a recurrence after only three years.
Digestive Disorders Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Carolina Digestive Health Associates: "Why Is My Poop Green?"
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: "Crohn's Disease Treatment Options."
Gastroenterology: "Postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease: The enemy is within the fecal stream."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Soothing solutions for irritable bowel syndrome."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Digestive Diagnostic Procedures."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Medicines and the Digestive System."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Treatment for Celiac Disease."
National Jewish Health: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)."
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children: "Green Poop."
UC San Diego Health: "End Results: What color is your poop and other pressing fecal matters."